A poem by Jaime Jacinto


“Just Before Waking”

by Jaime Jacinto

In the dream that comes
just before waking you are that child
inside an orchard of star-apples
standing beneath the birds
and twisted branches
waiting for a monsoon wind.
Here you speak an old language
    though no one listens but the
leaves turning with every word
your voice rising and falling
half wind half rain,
like the sad longing,
of men who return home
from dark green fields
their hands covered with soil.
half bone half blood,
like the old lonesome bachelors
of a Chinatown hotel,
tired whispers echoing down a hallway
part shadow part light
like this one-note serenade
played by a taxi-dance orchestra
a voice crooning in the dark
This is how they enter your dream,
Old men murmuring to you and to themselves
as they appear beside you
their hands
cups for the dream rain
spilling through their brown fingers.
And these are their stories:
a tale of the bending hearts
dark fields of solitude
frayed shirt of forgetfulness
twilight of the forgotten promise
a faded lightbulb from a hotel window
a history repeating inside your dream
so that when you call their names
asking them to stay
quietly they reappear
swirling like smoke
listening to you as you say,
manong, manong
hindi ko kayo malilimutan
kayo ay ang tamis ng hangin
at ang alat ng dagat.
Brother, brother how can I forget you
For you are the wind that blows like
    sweet memory
from a blue and distant sea.


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